The Formula 1 fraternity travels to Istanbul this week for the second Turkish Grand Prix, following the event's debut on the calendar last year at the purpose-built Istanbul Speed Park. The track, which is located on the Asian side of the...
The Formula 1 fraternity travels to Istanbul this week for the second Turkish Grand Prix, following the event's debut on the calendar last year at the purpose-built Istanbul Speed Park. The track, which is located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus river, is 90km east of the city centre.
During the three week August break from racing, Team McLaren Mercedes has been preparing for the Turkish race at the McLaren Technology Centre, Mercedes High Performance Engines in Brixworth, and Stuttgart. Work has also included preparation of further developments to the MP4-21 that will hit the test track next week, from Tuesday 29th August, in Monza.
The gap has allowed the team members that travel to the races and tests to take a short holiday before returning to the track action, including Kimi Raikkonen and Pedro de la Rosa, who spent time in Finland and Majorca respectively.
The race marks the 200th Grand Prix for the McLaren and Mercedes-Benz partnership, which began in 1995. The team's successful Technology Partnership with ExxonMobil also reaches the 200 race milestone in Turkey. In this time Team McLaren Mercedes has secured two Drivers' World Championships, one Constructors' title and 44 race wins.
The Turkish race is the only sail-away of the season. This allows the teams to use all the usual trackside facilities taken to races on mainland Europe. The Team McLaren Mercedes race transporters left the McLaren Technology Centre on Monday 14th August and drove to the North Eastern Italian port of Trieste, arriving on Wednesday 16th.
The following day the transporters set sail across the Adriatic and Aegean seas before arriving in Istanbul on Sunday 20th August. The Team Communications Centre left Hungary on Monday 7th August and travelled directly to Trieste, before leaving for Istanbul on Wednesday 9th.
"Although it is great for the team to have the short break, I am looking forward to getting back to racing, particularly as we are in Turkey this time out. The Istanbul Speed Park is a terrific circuit, it is demanding on the cars, but great fun to drive, with lots of different types of corner, some straights and elevation changes. All the ups and downs of the track don't really affect the set up; they just make it more interesting to drive."
"There are some chances to overtake, a couple of examples are into the first corner, which I found to my cost last year, and along the long stretch that takes you into the low speed turn 12. The corner that everyone was talking about after last year's race was the double apex left of 7/8. I think it was bumpier than we expected, and because it is such a long, fast corner if you don't get the line exactly right or lift or accelerate at the wrong moment you will get bounced off the circuit."
"We exit the turn flat out at 310km/h, and it is vital to have been able to get to this speed as it takes you onto one of the short straights at the back of the track. I took the maiden pole and victory at the Istanbul Speed Park last year, and it would be fantastic to repeat it in 2006. The car again felt strong in Hungary and we had good pace, so we will all be pushing hard towards this."
Pedro de la Rosa:
"I cannot wait to race at the Istanbul Speed Park, it is a fantastic track, I had a lot of fun driving it in my role as Friday driver last year. It is however quite precise from a set-up perspective, although this year we of course have data about the track before we arrive. It was awesome to get the podium at the Hungaroring and my aim is now of course to get one step higher."
"Along with Imola and Interlagos, the track runs anticlockwise and another key factor is the bumps. These have an influence on set-up, mostly for aero, and as a result we will run with less front wing than at tracks with a smoother characteristic such as Magny Cours."
"However a compromise has to be found, because we also want a lot of front end for turn 8 in particular, as it is such a long corner onto a straight, and you need the speed, but if you have too much the car will pick up over the bumps and throw the back of the car out."
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes:
"It was an excellent result for Pedro in Hungary at the last race. Both he and Kimi, with their respective strategies, were strong throughout the weekend and we hope that we can continue this pace into Turkey. This race also sees us reach a milestone in our relationships with Mercedes-Benz and ExxonMobil. In the 200 Grands Prix of our fruitful Partnerships to date, we have taken two Drivers' and one Constructors' title, securing 44 victories along the way."
"We are all focused on adding to that total here in Istanbul, which would be a fitting way to celebrate this landmark. There has been a focused period of preparation for the race at our headquarters' and we travel to Turkey looking for a strong result at the Istanbul Speed Park where we ran well last year, taking the pole, victory and fastest lap.
"Tyre degradation was medium at this track last year and we have selected, with Michelin, similar compounds to those used in Hungary and Hockenheim. These are above average in terms of hardness, but not as much as tracks such as Silverstone and Barcelona."
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"This is already the 200th Grand Prix together with our partner McLaren since 1995 -- a period which has truly passed at racing speed. An anniversary like this is also an occasion to look back, although in all sporting competitions, the present and the future are obviously more important than the past."
"Since our first victory on 9 March 1997, the team has won 44 out of 166 Grands Prix; statistically one in every fourth race. But of course we had periods like last year when we won up to six consecutive Grands Prix; but on the other hand also had to cope with long periods without any victory."
"Since 1998, we have won three World Championship titles and finished runner-up on eight occasions, four times each in the Constructors' and in the Drivers' Championships, like 2005 in both categories. That year ten victories out of our 18 race starts were ultimately not enough to win the Championships.
"This year so far, we have not yet translated our chances of winning into victories, having just achieved second and third positions on the podium. Therefore, everybody in the team wants to improve further. There is no doubt that the trend of the last races is leading in the right direction and we want to continue this on the challenging circuit at Istanbul."
"The track is demanding for chassis, tyres, engine and drivers, and the race is without doubt one of the toughest challenges of the year. Kimi won last year's debut race and we hope that this is a positive omen for him and Pedro for the second Turkish Grand Prix."